Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Steam Pump Ranch: An Oro Valley Historical Site That Should Be Used As Such

Steam Pump Ranch is an historical property
Pima County purchased Steam Pump Ranch for $5 million in 2006. It was part of a Pima County Bond offering. Once acquired, they turned the park over to Oro Valley. "The property provides an excellent locale for developing a “sense of place” for Oro Valley and holds economic viability as an educational facility, special event venue and heritage park." (Source: Section 2) It is a 15 acre property acquired to "stregthen Oro Valley's firm connection to the past: (2008 Steam Pump Ranch Master Plan, Page 4).

Over the years, use of the park have changed
The town plans town offices there. Events that have nothing to do with the town's history are held there... including some drive in movies.. .and the "Second Saturday Farmer's Markets. 

Two upcoming events illustrate how far the town has strayed from using Steam Pump Ranch. Both events are this weekend. Friday is "Parent's Night Out" Event. "Drop off the kids at Steam Pump Ranch and go enjoy your evening. We will treat your kids to a movie, games, crafts, pizza, and snacks. We know you work hard, and we want you to play hard or maybe just take a nap without someone saying 'look at me" The other is family camping event for the following night.

The Oro Valley Historical Society (OVHS) has taken note of of this
Speaking at last week's "Call To Audience" Devon Sloan questioned why these event's are not being held at a town park. We include her remarks in their entirety.

"Why[are these two events] not at any of our larger, more family oriented other parks in Oro Valley, namely Riverfront Park with much larger grassy area, small trail, and a little playground? Or James Kreigh Park with again much larger grassy area, trails, playground, or the major park in Oro Valley, where we are spending tons of money - Naranja which has even larger grassy area, trails, and playground." 

Steam Pump Ranch was placed on the National Register of Historic Places based on the sense of place that it provides all of us
There is no playground and only a small grassy area surrounded by a historic home, a barbecue area under reconstruction and two small buildings that are being reconstituted as rest rooms. There is fencing around these buildings to protect citizens and the buildings. It doesn’t seem like the perfect place for family activities. 

In the Cultural Heritage and Preservation Plan of 2015, it is noted that Steam Pump Ranch is an “important part of the Town’s heritage” and that “a primary concern in the future is the protection of the historic core at the Ranch”. It also states that “partnerships will be a key element in maintenance of the property and providing public access .” 

Events at Steam Pump Ranch should have an historical and cultural perspective
The Oro Valley Historical Society would have been thrilled to be a part of either or both of these two Town activities by providing some historical and cultural aspect of the Ranch, if we had been included as a partner. We specialize in education - perhaps a short story about the Ranch, the people who lived here, how they changed the scope of our area in the 1800’s. We weren’t informed about these two events, however. 

It is our hope that the Town will reconsider the types of activities that are held at Steam Pump Ranch, to include the historical society in future events (like the parents’ night out in June or the camp out in October) and will consider maintaining the integrity of our most visible historic core in accordance with state and national guidelines. 

They didn’t have real playgrounds when George Pusch lived on the property, but we have them now in our three parks. Let’s use the parks as the family gathering place for parents and kids and truly allow the historical society to partner with the Town to inform, preserve and protect our history."
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